(Capcom's primary storyline)
Raccoon City was a small, industrialized city located in Arklay County, an isolated mountain county in the Midwestern United States. It was destroyed during the t-Virus outbreak in 1998. At present, the area is cordoned off to the rest of the world by a U.S. government facility.
Urbanization took off rapidly in the late 1960s, either as a result of Umbrella Pharmaceuticals moving into the area or by coincidence. During this decade, the city saw the construction of a tram line linking it to Stone-Ville and the Arklay Mountains, while the Kite Bros. Railway constructed a subway system, opened in 1969. Also in this year was the establishment of the Raccoon Police Department (RPD) as a municipal police force and construction of the Raccoon Police Station, though the Arklay County Sheriff's Department (ASD) had a continued presence in the area.
With the economic boom aided by Umbrella's continued investment in the city into the 1980s, the company town had expanded far beyond its 1950s limits and was fast becoming a tourist spot, taking in out-of-state hikers, and the subway had expanded to encompass eight stations. A river dock was also established along the Circular river following Umbrella's arrival.
The city suffered from the 1990-1991 recession, however, though this was in part reversed by Mayor Michael Warren's Bright Raccoon 21 Plan, a city revival project which was funded heavily by Umbrella. The Raccoon General Hospital was constructed in 1992 as part of this project, while another hospital in the mountains was closed the next year due to a scandal linked to the company. Gaining control of the town, Umbrella financed the creation of an independent law-enforcement agency known as the Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) in 1996. This organization consisted of military veterans and scientific experts, and was meant to carry out criminal investigations that the RPD was not capable of handling, such as counter-terrorism or riot control.
1998 saw a series of events which would later destroy Raccoon City itself. A sentient B.O.W. known as "Queen Leech" began an attack on Umbrella facilities in the Arklay Mountains as revenge for the death of its creator, Dr. James Marcus, ten years prior. In attacking the Arklay Laboratory and infecting its personnel, they were unable to manage the facility, leading to the escape of a pack of Cerberuses. The dogs began attacking hikers, followed by the groups of up to ten zombies hunting the forest; the first reported victim was a woman found in Cedar on 20 May, having been attacked in the mountains and washed down the Marble River. By mid-July, 20 people were known to have died, consisting of thirteen Raccoon City locals attacked in their homes, and a further seven out-of-state hikers killed in five separate attacks. The RPD explored the theory that the attackers were a cult based in a hideout in the mountains who ritualistically murdered and ate their victims after consuming narcotics, but they hit a dead end when neither Raccoon General Hospital or local pharmacies reported unusual customers. No longer confident in solving the case, the RPD closed off the roads leading to the Arklays, and handed the case over to S.T.A.R.S. on Thursday, July 9.
Ahead of the Bravo Team mission, the helicopter was sabotaged by Umbrella agent Dr. Albert Wesker, who they had placed in command of S.T.A.R.S. It was Umbrella's intention to destroy the Arklay Laboratory using S.T.A.R.S., who would then be killed by their B.O.W.s to prove their viability against a militarily-trained unit. With Bravo Team out of contact, Wesker had reason to send Alpha Team out on an emergency mission. Over the course of the two-day investigation, Kevin Dooley, Edward Dewey, Forest Speyer, Joseph Frost, Kenneth J. Sullivan, and Richard Aiken were killed by B.O.W.s and irregular mutants. Captain Enrico Marini was shot by Wesker himself when it became clear he had discovered Umbrella's intention. Wesker infected himself with an experimental t-Virus strain moments before being impaled by the T-002 Tyrant; this allowed him to keep the data for himself and convinced Umbrella he had perished. However, the actions of Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton, and Rebecca Chambers, as well as Umbrella executive Colonel Sergei Vladimir, prevented this being achieved, and he was forced to abandon the facility with nothing while T-002 was destroyed.
- Main article: Raccoon City Destruction Incident
The return of the four S.T.A.R.S. veterans and their pilot Brad Vickers caused a serious problem to the company's control of Raccoon City. They were able to slow down any official police investigation due to their control over the Mayor and Chief of Police Brian Irons, but made plans to assassinate the S.T.A.R.S. officers if it was found they were conducting an unofficial investigation. S.T.A.R.S. itself was shut down and replaced with Raccoon S.W.A.T. Redfield, Chambers, and Burton left the city for their own reasons, while Valentine continued her investigation within the city.
Over the course of September, the t-Virus made its way into Raccoon City, largely due to Dr. William Birkin allowing nearby Umbrella facilities to be contaminated to prevent them from stopping him handing over the experimental Golgotha Virus to the U.S. military. By September 16, the Raccoon General Hospital had wards locked down to slow the spread of the t-Virus, which was understood by its local name as the "Cannibal Disease."
On the night of Tuesday, September 22, Dr. Birkin was attacked by an Umbrella Security Service team sent to retrieve the sample. This led to a series of events that culminated in the t-Virus contaminating into Victory Lake via infected rats, and entering the water supply. The city was put under martial law by the U.S. Department of Defense on September 24 as tens of thousands of residents mutated into zombies. The United States Army, the Army National Guard, and the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (UBCS) were sent to supplement the efforts of the ASD, the RPD, and the Raccoon City Fire Department (RFD) in the evacuation of civilians. Despite the efforts, the infection continued without major opposition. The U.S. Army and Army National Guard actually had the soldiers stationed in the outskirts of the city to prevent anyone discovering the government's deal with Birkin from coming out. By the night of Tuesday September 29, the city was overwhelmed and the Raccoon Police Station was itself abandoned.
Following an emergency meeting in Congress over what to do to control the outbreak, the President made the highly controversial decision to fire an experimental thermobaric missile at the city. The operation began after daybreak on Friday October 1, destroying the entire city. The official death toll was over 100,000. The President resigned after this event, faced with public outrage at his decision to destroy the city.
What was left of Raccoon City and the surrounding area was locked down to contain any surviving biohazardous material. A government research outpost was constructed at the center of the ruined city, in which surviving material could be cataloged for research.
The destruction of Raccoon City had global ramifications. No longer committed to their illegal investiture in bio-weapons from Umbrella, the U.S. government turned on the corporation and banned Umbrella USA from conducting business before liquidating it. Umbrella was also faced with payment of compensation to victims' families. The corporation contested these lawsuits in what became as the Raccoon Trials. As the U.S. government played a role in the outbreak, and made a policy of denying the existence of B.O.W.s as a matter of national security, the actual evidence against Umbrella was contestable, and the trials continued into 2003, only concluded when Dr. Albert Wesker provided a sample of Umbrella's own research data, proving their guilt. The loss of the trial bankrupted the corporation, while its CEO Dr. Oswell E. Spencer went into hiding to escape an arrest warrant from both the United States and Russian Federation. The actual nature of this data was classified, and the public at large was not aware of B.O.W.s until the Terragrigia Panic in 2004.
WilPharma; TRICELL and other companies in the pharmaceutical industry also faced backlashes when it was discovered Umbrella's bio-weapons research was indirectly aided by them through the purchase of chemicals. To avoid a financial collapse, the Federation of Pharmaceutical Companies provided prosecutors with additional evidence to be used against Umbrella after being offered amnesty. The Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA) was founded to counter potential threats of bioterrorism faced by Umbrella's collapse. In 2005, Dr. Curtis Miller took part in a series of bioterror attacks in and around Harvardville as revenge for the death of his wife and daughter in Raccoon City. It was later discovered he had been radicalised by Dr. Frederic Downing, an ex-Umbrella researcher within WilPharma, as a means of faking his death in a terrorist attack and escaping with viral weaponry. This scandal led to WilPharma's collapse and subsequent purchase by TRICELL.
Raccoon City arose again as a political issue in 2013, when President Adam Benford made the decision to publicly reveal the US involvement with Umbrella. However, The Family instigated a bioterror attack in Tall Oaks on the day of his speech to silence him. Whether his successors have continued Benford's policy is unknown.
Into 2017, survivors and bystanders of the destruction of Raccoon City and their descendants were noted by mass media news coverage and documentation to still face societal difficulties, including stigmas and discrimination from within the United States due to the infamy regarding the 1998 viral outbreak and its wide spread ramifications.
Due to its associations with Umbrella and its proximity to the Arklay Mountains, Raccoon City's economy was a mix of industry and tourism. In terms of industry, Umbrella operated a chemical plant east of the Circular River which provided jobs for hundreds. With its subsidiaries taken into account, Umbrella directly or indirectly employed up to 40% of Raccoon City's workforce. Umbrella held a high reputation in Arklay County, and they provided heavy investment in infrastructure, such as constructing Raccoon General Hospital as part of the "Bright Raccoon 21" initiative. Likely outside of Umbrella's control was Raccoon Dam, based at Victory Lake. This dam may have provided electricity for the city, with Victory Lake itself being used as a reservoir for the city's drinking water. Boats also used the rivers for transport, and Umbrella operated a dock from which the transportation of B.O.W.s secretly occurred.
In terms of tourism, St. Michael's Clock Tower was located in the center of Raccoon City and was a local treasure, featured in postcards. Located somewhere in the city was Warren Stadium, home to the football team, the "Raccoon Sharks". Raccoon Zoo was opened in the 1970s and remained a popular tourist attraction into the 1990s, and acquired funding for new building projects such as a biodome, though this became the subject of controversy when the chairman was accused of engaging in the illegal buying and selling of orchids for the zoo. Outside of Raccoon City itself, Raccoon Forest and the Arklay Mountains were popular among hikers. Income for the local community was also likely generated through the opening of Raccoon University to the east of the Circular River.
Tying the industry and tourism together was Raccoon City's transportation routes. A tramway was constructed in the 1960s, which facilitated transport across Raccoon City and out into the mountain community of Stone-Ville. The underground Kite Bros. Railway was opened in 1969, and provided additional transport. By the 1990s it was regularly transporting tens of thousands of commuters between eight stations. However, it suffered from the early 1990s recession, and by 1998 was virtually abandoned outside of commuting hours. Funding appears to have been bad enough they could not support structural repairs, as the tunnels during the 1998 Raccoon City Destruction Incident were found to be derelict.
Raccoon City was largely if not totally encircled by a mountain range known as the Arklay Mountains, which were themselves contained within a larger region called Raccoon Forest. The city's northern extremities were particularly close to this wilderness, starting from Lynn Valley. A number of rivers flowed out of the mountains, including the Marble, Aimes and Circular, the latter of which flowed through Raccoon itself. The forest was not totally devoid of human life, however. Villages such as Stone-Ville and Cedar were located within this area, along with the Umbrella Chemical Plant and a hospital that was closed in 1993.
The city west of the Circular was separated into Uptown Raccoon City, covering the south, and Downtown Raccoon City covering the north, with Ennerdale Street and the Raccoon Police Station forming the border. Not much is known of Raccoon City east of the river, other than it being the site of Raccoon University and, to the north, the industrial zone home to Incineration Disposal Plant P-12A.
- At the beginning of Resident Evil 2, the player comes across a store named Arukas. Spelled backwards, it reads Sakura, the name of a character from the Capcom series Street Fighter.
- The skyline of Raccoon City seen in both the main menu and title sequence of Resident Evil 2 is modelled after the real world city of Montréal, Québec.
- In the English manual for the GameCube version of Resident Evil 2, Raccoon City was stated to originally be a small hamlet before Umbrella got involved. However, the manual was not written by the series writers.
- In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Jill comes across Eagle's Pet Shop. Eagle is a reference to the Street Fighter character. There are also many signs above doors with a royal symbol surrounding the name, CAPCOM.
- In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis one can see a sign reading: "Biohazard 4", on the street outside the restaurant.
- In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis at the beginning of intro cutscene with Jill's narration featured the picture of right curving North Street in Boston, Massachusetts, one can see the sign written with "GRADY'S INN" on the building.
- In the American TV show "Robot Chicken", it showed Raccoon City in a skit whereas Mario Kart characters have to take detours to undesirable cities, and Yoshi ended up going to Raccoon City, where he was devoured by zombies.
- In the comic book "I Feel Sick", created by Jhonen Vasquez, the main character is on a date with a young man who mentions that he was in Raccoon City. The young man then turns out to be a zombie and begins eating the waiter.
- In the arcade mode of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, the ending for Marvel Comics character Rocket Raccoon shows the character paying a visit to Raccoon City after hearing about it through Chris Redfield. Unaware of the truth, he is shown to be fighting his way through hordes of zombies.
- In Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, a magazine article about Raccoon City can be found aboard the Annabelle ship on a table in floor 2F, stating, "16 years after the nightmare of Raccoon City and the survivors are still suffering." Strangely, this same magazine can be found in the break room in the Resident Evil 2 one-shot demo.
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- Tahara, Seiji (田原 誠司), ed (1998). BIOHAZARD 2 Official Guide Book. Japan: Famitsu.
- Hamamura, Koichi, ed (2002) (in Japanese). biohazard Kaitai Shinsho. Famitsu. ISBN 4-7577-0980-3.
- Sumner, Christian; Shotten, Brian; Owen, Michael, eds (9 November 2005). Resident Evil Archives: Umbrella's Virus Uncovered. Translated by Zpang America, Inc.. BradyGames. ISBN 0744006554.
- Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 (2004), file: "Old pamphlet".
- Archives, p.297.
- Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 (2004), file: "Kurt's notebook".
- Resident Evil (1996), file: "Scrapbook".
- Inside of BIO-HAZARD.
- Matsuyama, biohazard, "Chris Redfield".
- Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (1999), scene: "Unfortunate Event".
- Resident Evil Outbreak (2003), scene: "Epilogue".
- Resident Evil 5 (2009), file: "BSAA".
- Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (1999), file: "City Guide".
- Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 (2004), file: "Written orders".
- Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (1999), file: "Clock Tower Postcard".